Timeline: February 10 – February 18
Attended the 34th ICANN meeting and Open Source India Week at New Delhi… details later!
I’ve been hearing about Ahsan Manzil since childhood, but never got the chance to visit it since it’s located in a different part of Dhaka. I went to that area for the first two months ago, and decided to go there again to visit the Ahsan Manzil. So my friend Shan and I kept making plans and finally went there today… and it was worth it. It’s a beautiful architectural monument that reminded me of our gloried past.
Located on the banks of Buriganaga river and very near to Sadarghat Launch Terminal, it was the residential palace of the Nawabs of Dhaka. Now turned into a museum, it has 31 rooms and 23 galleries displaying portraits, furnitures and household articles and utensils used by the Nawabs.
Closed on Thursday, the museum is open from 10:30 to 17:30 on weekdays, and 15:00 to 19:30 on Friday during summer time (April – September). During winter (October – March), it’s open from 9:30 to 16:30 on weekdays and 15:00 to 19:30 on Friday. Go ahead and spend an hour or two at Ahsan Manzil and enjoy it’s beauty only in return of a 2 taka entry fee.
Timeline: October 9 – October 11
Setting up the Khulna center was my last assignment from Relief International. I’ve been working for this international aid agency since May 2005, and I finally realised that it’s time to quit. I resigned last month, and September 31st was officially my last day at work. For last two weeks, I’ve been helping them out as a volunteer, and mentoring my assistant Alamgir whom I’ve nominated for my position.
My work at Khulna took only few hours, so I got a good chance to roam around the city. I visited the zero point, Khulna University campus, Khulna court, the “Jail Khana Ghaat” on the banks of Rupsa river, the New Market, Meena Bazar, and Daily Purbanchal office.
The Khulna Meena Bazar is almost the same size of the Dhaka one, but has one third of the products that our one has. I went there to buy Playboy deodorant for myself but couldn’t find it.
Overall, it was a good trip. I boarded at Hotel Royal as usual and I’m giving them 8.5 out 10 for their service. No beer this time since it’s Ramadan.
It took eight long hours to reach Khulna, the so called industrial capital of Bangladesh. The 335 kilometers journey wouldn’t have been so boring and tiresome if the Volvo service of Green Line was better. Their AC acted weird, the TV blew up, the seats were uncomfortable, the mineral water had a bad odour, and the guide never apologised despite of so many problems. If I wasn’t carrying my iPod, then I would have surely died of boredom. A good lesson learnt, I’ll never ride on Green Line bus again.
I checked in at Hotel Royal, the best hotel in the region. Their services were of international standards, but surprisingly the room rent wasn’t too high. The room was well groomed with international standard fixtures, the bed was comfy, the room service was quick, and the room attendants appeared well trained. They have a bar too.
I roamed around the town, visited the New Market, but I wasn’t too impressed. Despite being the divisional head quarter of the division, the city was much smaller than I expected. It’s not too developed either. There were handful of cars in the road, and the buildings looked pale. Load shedding is a major problem of the city dwellers. Khulna city had nothing that can be compared to Dhaka, not even with port city Chittagong. Just imagine what kind of city it is where the shutters of shops get closed by 9 PM!
Just a few observations: 1. The dialect of Khulna people isn’t too difficult to understand. 2. The rikshaw fair is pretty cheap. 3. People of Khulna seems to be too obsessed with Hazrat Khan Jahan Ali, the 15 century Islamic religious leader and a ruler. Roads, schools, shops, buildings, companies, and a lot of installations are named after him.
Timeline: July 11 – July 13
It was my first trip to Joypurhat, a North Bengal district 380 km from Dhaka. It was infact my first trip to North Bengal as well, the vast region on the other side of Jamuna river.
Since there isn’t any AC bus service available on this route, I had to travel by Hanif Paribahan. I listened to my crazy collection of trance music through out the journey, so I didn’t get too bored. More over, crossing the 4.8 km Jamuna bridge (which is 110 kilometers northwest of Dhaka) was exciting. To date, it’s the longest brigde in South Asia, and 11th longest in the world.
It took 8 long hours to reach Joypurhat. My destination was further 15 kilometers from the town, a village in Pachbibi upa-zila. Pachbibi is completely an under developed rural area, with rikshaw vans as the only means of transport. It was quite surprsing for me see only a handful of real rickshaws around. The Indian border and Hili land port was near to where I stayed, I was informed that a lot of villages are involved with smuggling.
There’s a good number of indigenous population in the area, making it a heaven for a lot of local and international NGOs. A Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) mission school is also in the area, and I was told by my guide that they receives a huge funding from USA. I was told that they have their own backup generators, water supply system, air-conditioned rooms, computers lab with 50+ PCs and so on. I wanted to visit them, but couldn’t manage the time to do so.
An interesting point to mention before I end. If you go to a tea stall in Joypurhat, then this is how they’ll serve your tea: they’ll fill two-third of the cup with milk, and then one-third with tea! Should we call it it tea with milk, or milk with tea, that remains the question.